A broken humerus can impact almost every area of your life and makes daily tasks more difficult, including sleeping.
When you have broken the humerus – which is the bone that runs between the shoulder and the elbow – it is necessary to follow the correct steps to avoid surgery and to speed the healing process.
That will require wearing a sling, brace, splint, or cast for a few weeks, sleeping correctly to avoid putting pressure on your arm and shoulder, physiotherapy, and returning slowly to regular activities.
But what many people want to know, is what’s the best sleeping position for a broken humerus?
It’s an important question, as ensuring your sleeping position with a broken humerus is correct will help you heal faster and avoid more pain. Luckily, we show you everything you need to know right here.
But First: What are the Symptoms of A Broken Humerus?
A fracture in the humerus can present with a few symptoms. If these symptoms all occur it is necessary to have your arm checked as soon as possible so treatment can begin.
Symptoms include pain, swelling, and there may also be bruising in the area. Your shoulder will also become difficult or impossible to move, and when movement is attempted the bones can often be felt grinding against each other. Your shoulder and arm may appear to be misaligned or deformed upon inspection. And there will likely be discomfort along your arm which will directly limit the use of it.
To diagnose a break or a fracture in the humerus an x-ray will be required. This will show not only the location of the break but also the alignment of the arm and shoulder around it, and which direction the break is in.
This information is necessary so an action plan can be put in place. That will ensure doctors can correctly align your arm.
Below we show you the six steps you must take when sleeping with a broken humerus. That includes the best broken humerus sleeping position too.
Sleeping with a Broken Humerus: The Best Sleeping Position and Six Steps You Must Take
Sleeping with a broken bone can be difficult and uncomfortable. But getting a good night’s sleep is vital to helping your body to heal faster.
In order to find the best sleeping position for a broken humerus, and to ensure you get the best sleep possible, follow these six steps:
1. Keep Your Arm Immobile Over Night
Your arm will need to be immobile over night so it won’t be able to move. This will improve the healing process and also help manage pain.
You can immobilize your arm with a cast or a splint, which will then be supported by a sling. It is important to allow the sling to hold the weight of your arm and cast while sleeping too, as using a pillow or cushion to support it can cause movement within your shoulder which will affect the alignment of your arm and joint.
Supporting it on a hard surface such as a wooden chair can also damage and even tear the skin, causing sores, injuries, and bleeding inside a cast.
2. The Best Broken Humerus Sleeping Position? Sleep Sitting Up
To allow proper support to your arm while sleeping, it is recommended to sleep sitting up. This can be done either in a chair or by propping yourself up on your bed. But it is important to ensure that either solution does not require pillows which support your arm.
When sitting in a chair you can lean back slightly as long as the sling is still supporting the weight of your arm. That will then allow your arm to hang all night while you sleep. If you will be sleeping in a bed, use several pillows or cushions to prop up your back and keep your body in a sitting position.
Remove anything from around your body that could move underneath the sling, as this can move your arm upwards and shift your shoulder. That would create further damage to the break.
It can be extremely difficult to adjust to sleeping sitting up, but sleeping any other way increases the risk of further damaging the break by moving your arm and shoulder. That could result in everything becoming misaligned and then you would have to begin treatment again.
3. Wear Loose Clothes
It’s also necessary to ensure you are comfortable enough to sleep.
This may require wearing a larger shirt than normal and placing it over the sling, which could keep the sling from becoming caught on things.
Wearing loose clothing will also make it easier to put shirts on and take them off, allowing you to wear clean clothes every day without moving your arm.
4. Manage the Pain Effectively
To manage the pain and discomfort of a broken humerus, a pain killer will be recommended or prescribed by your care provider. It must be taken on the recommended schedule. This schedule will change after the first few days as the healing begins and the pain decreases.
This process will be closely monitored by your care provider to ensure that pain remains managed. As it’s difficult to sleep when in pain, it will be important to maintain the required pain relief to ensure pain relief occurs at night as well.
5. Create the Perfect Conditions for Sleeping
The more quality sleep you are able to get, the faster the healing process.
Therefore finding comfortable pajamas, using pillows to remain upright (but not support the sling), and using dim or no lights at night can all help to improve sleep, and subsequently the speed with which the break heals.
Stop using screen such as phones and computers two hours before bed to avoid stimulating your brain. This will also allow your thoughts to slow as you prepare for bed.
Also maintain your regular bedtime routine as closely as possible. Following a regular routine will help you shift into sleep faster and should help you stay asleep longer. All of which gives your body more time to heal.
Your room should be kept at a comfortable temperature, slightly cooler than during the day, as that will ease your body into sleep naturally. An open window can often help to improve both the quality and quantity of sleep achieved too.
6. Eventually, You Can Start Sleeping on Your Side
When further along in the healing process it may be possible to begin sleeping on the side that is opposite from your broken humerus.
This will keep your arm from having pressure put on it, though it will require a tight form of immobilization to ensure that your arm and shoulder remain still throughout the night and do not shift or move.
Wrapping the arm, complete with cast, splint, or brace, to be as tight to the body as possible, and supported even when laying on your side, will be necessary if you’re to use this broken humerus sleeping position.
Before attempting this broken humerus sleeping position, you must consult with your doctor to find out if the break has healed enough to allow you to sleep this way.
broken Humerus: Treatment
Treatment options depend upon the severity of the break and if the bone has shifted and moved out of place.
If the bone is displaced it may be necessary to surgically correct and set the bone. Surgery includes correcting the alignment of the bone and fixing it in place with metal plates with either screws or pins to hold them in place. If the patient has a history of bone or joint degeneration then it may be difficult to find a space to correctly attach the pins, leading to a full shoulder replacement. This is reserved for only specific situations and can be avoided in most cases.
For those that do not require surgery, there is a simpler form of treatment that will immobilize the shoulder and arm for a few weeks, then return it to movement in phases. This is done with a sling or brace, which will need to remain in place for at least two weeks. Alternatively, a cast can be applied to ensure there is no arm movement at all, allowing for healing to occur undisturbed.
When choosing if a cast, splint, brace, or sling will be used, there are several factors that will be considered. The decision will be based upon the location and severity of the break, as well as the positioning of the arm. For younger children or people who are active and may find it more difficult to keep the arm immobile, a cast is likely to be chosen. This will set the arm in place and allow no movement.
A brace or splint can be used for those who are better prepared to keep their arm limited in movement.
Follow up x-rays will be completed either every week or every other week, to monitor the healing process and determine when the arm can begin to be moved again. Physiotherapy will then be required to begin adding movement back to the shoulder and arm.
Broken Humerus Sleeping Positions: Our Final Thoughts
Getting enough quality sleep is vital to the healing process.
If you follow our six steps and make sure you stick to the best sleeping position for a broken humerus, your arm should heal at a good rate. Start off by sleeping upright, and then transition to sleeping on your side – but only with your doctor’s prior approval.